Tuesday, June 15, 2010
At 12:30 I decided to walk to France Tourism and attempt to go on the Giverny tour. Yes, by myself. I was feeling independent and decided I really needed to do at least one of the six day trips I had been wanting to do. I walked about two miles into the center of the city only to find out they were booked. Ugh. I emailed, Facebooked, and texted a classmate, hoping they didn’t leave to do something fun right from class. I bought a sandwich and took the metro home, terribly disappointed.
When I got back, I knocked on my friend’s door, figuring it was a lost cause. But, she was home! So we spent the rest of the day in Montmartre, crossing another thing off the list. However, the trip was not without its adventures. Montmartre is known for their pickpockets so as if I’m not already super cautious, I was especially anxious about my wallet which was safely at the bottom of my zipped-up bag. But, we took lots of pictures, wandered through Sacre-Coeur (including the crypt!) and went to souvenir shops and bought some touristy things. While wandering to find the Moulin Rouge, a creepy man set me up for a beggar trap. He was at least creative. He pretended to walk by us and find a gold ring and then tried to “do me a favor” and sell it to me for the price of a coffee. It took me a second to catch on (a second too long, now that I think about it). I mean come one, I’m a 21 (yes, still 21) year-old girl. You think I don’t know what real gold looks like?
Next, we wandered up a side street to get a look at the Moulin de la Gallette. They were cleaning the streets and a car drove by and sprayed us. A street cleaner explained to us (in very fast French) that it was Seine water (not comforting) and then told us to beware of pickpockets. Then he kissed us on both cheeks and asked us to take pictures with him. I was torn between amusement and being afraid of another money ploy. But, he was just generally entertaining.
We finally found the Moulin Rouge and took lots of pictures. It reminded me of a Broadway theater. Then, we got Starbucks (just needed a taste of home) and I started my Starbucks mug collection with a “Paris” mug. I still need a New York one….
We took the metro home and I’ve never been on a train so crowded. You literally couldn’t move if you tried and this time it took me only a few seconds to realize someone was attempting to pickpocket me. On a crowded train, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, but the way his arm was bent and proceeded to move between people was a little too suspicious. The old man standing in front of me suddenly grabbed his pocket and it confirmed my suspicion. The train got a little less crowded with every stop and unfortunately the pickpocketer got off at our stop. He was way too creepy. I kept my eye on him but I think I started to channel the rage from when I was pickpocketed last year. Jerk.
Anyway, we made it home safe and sound and with our wallets in tact. We tried to rent bikes to see the city. They only cost 1 euro but they wanted a 150 euro deposit. Forget it. We bought quiche and went home. Now, it’s homework time. Ugh. But tomorrow is my birthday (which I keep forgetting about). I think we have some good plans. A haunted Paris tour? We’ll see ….
Monday, June 14, 2010
After, I took a trip to Concorde to go to Longchamp and get some bags while they’re cheap. The trip was a success and I made it home trying to decide if I should buy dinner or eat my soup (all I have left). I settled on soup but when I got stuck at the cross walk near my residence I saw a fruit tart through the window and decided if I was saving money on dinner, I may as well buy dessert. I haven’t had it yet, but I’ll let you know how it is.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
At night we went to visit a friend from school in the Marais district. Why couldn’t we live there? The area was gorgeous and the nightlife amazing. I couldn’t keep track of all of the cafés, pubs, and bars we passed. Oh, and the shopping. Apparently it’s the “East Village” of Paris and extremely difficult to get an apartment in. If I come back – no, WHEN I come back – I’m staying there.
We went to a British pub and I had some cider. We hung around and talked for a bit and then the city fatigue swept in and we were ready for bed. A couple stayed out, a couple of us went back. And once I got home around 1:00 and began to set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. for my castle tour, then begin to map out where I had to take the metro in the morning, I decided to give myself the opportunity to sleep in. I was disappointed I canceled my castle tour but then again, I’d prefer to go with someone anyway. Next time I’m in Paris, I guess. Then I wont have 5 days of class and 7 days of homework draining me.
So today I’m determined to do as much homework as I can so I can make the most of my last week in Paris. I want to go to Giverny (Monet’s house and gardens), a castle or two (Fontainbleu, Vieux le Vicomte), and of course, shopping. Maybe I’ll get to that last one today.
Friday, June 11, 2010
I made conversation with the ambassador’s intern and a woman who worked at the embassy. Then we watched the documentary that brought us all there. The documentary, “25 Percent,” was about women in parliament in Afghanistan. It was fascinating to see the people who try to keep rights away from women that we take for granted in the U.S.
Afterwards, we visited Place de Concorde since it was just around the corner. (As was Prada, Gucci, Valentino, and any other unaffordable store you can think of. Good job, America, you’ve made it into the high class district.) Then two of us walked up the Champs Elysée to “window-lick” as they call it in France. I stopped in the five-story Louis Vuitton store just to say I went. Then, after a long metro ride home, I grabbed a Croque Monsieur and a peach iced tea.
Tonight, we’re headed to the bar to watch the World Cup. Europe is fantastic.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
After a trip to the computer lab and a kebab in the park for lunch with my classmate, I met with my TA about my project. I got some good ideas (whew - I might make it to 4,000 words) and then decided to stop at the Invalides to visit Napoleon’s Tomb on the way back. It wasn’t worth the 9 euro but I knew if I didn’t do it I’d regret it. I’ve been talking about going for years; now I can say I was there. I wandered home via metro but while transferring at the Opéra metro stop, I decided to go shoe shopping. Yes, there is a shoe store in the metro – it is Paris, after all. I tried a few pairs, but none of them fit right. I was discouraged I didn’t have appropriate flats to wear in this crazy weather and on these dirty streets, but the fact that the man understood my French had me ecstatic. I even had the confidence that I normally lack in foreign conversation.
Anyway, I eventually made it home and had some leftover Pasta Ponza and listened to music. I even started my reading for next week – how ambitious am I? Then the girls and I went to the movies. Prince of Persia in English with French subtitles – that’s an experience. Although it was slightly predictable with a disappointing ending, I love those types of movies. They remind me why I picked my concentration.
Tomorrow, we visit the Ambassador’s house. Yes, the American Ambassador. My professor got an invite yesterday and the coordinator suggested he bring the whole class. We’ll be viewing a video about the women in Afghanistan, which I actually find fascinating. It amazes me the way people live (or don’t).
I just had some leftover baguette with jam and finished some more homework. What a night. Ok, time for bed.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The cab didn’t stop at our door till almost 3:30 so it was a good thing class was delayed until 2:00 p.m. We met at the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration at the Palais de la Porte Dorée. It’s an immigration museum that tells the history of immigrants in France since the 19th century and serves as a reminder and to increase awareness of this population in France. After, three of us went with our professor and TA to the Buddhist temple across the street. Well, at least we thought it was across the street. It was actually across the street down a long path in the park. We did get a personal lesson on the religion from a Buddhist, which our professor translated (our shoes were off and everything). The religion is all about controlling desire and essentially being in touch with yourself and a good person. It reminds me of the therapy constantly being pushed in America. While yoga became popular practice in the West and quickly became disassociated with religion, meditation is doing the same. Buddhist ritual is congruent with mindfulness (something that didn’t work for me). Anyway, enough school for now.
By the time we decided to leave it started to pour. We decided to wait out the storm in a pagoda where Cambodians were having some kind of cultural gathering. They were selling various Asian foods so I got 2 spring rolls and a sandwich. I forgot how much I love Asian cuisine. We also watched the boys do some crazy acrobatics – lifting each other up by the hands and balancing on top of each other.
Eventually, the rain got worse and we ended up sprinting back to the metro. By the time we arrived, my jacket was soaked through (yes, my rain jacket) and my pants felt about thousand pounds heavier. By the time we got home it was almost 7:00 and I couldn’t believe where the day went. I wrote an essay and am currently anticipating doing my reading and responses while cooking Pasta Ponza in a way-too-tiny kitchen. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a minute to breathe. But that’s okay. This is the way I like to live.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
After, we took a walk up the Champs-Elysée and ended up reading on a bench in the park. A long metro-ride home and a quick trip to the grocery store ended the day. I bought my very own baguette, which I was very excited about. Now my homework continues to follow me wherever I go so it’s that time of night. More museums tomorrow. Hoping for the best.